Former ambassador to chair board
BUDAPEST — Former Hungarian ambassador to Washington, Andras Simonyi, has been appointed chairman of Korda Studios, the recently opened $125 million facility located just outside the Hungarian capital, Budapest, which just wrapped production on Universal’s “Hellboy 2.”The studio also announced that Charlie Arneson, former head of Fox Baja Studios and a key technical advisor on James Cameron’s “Titanic,” which was shot at Fox Baja, has been hired to join Korda’s professional staff. Having supervised the construction of water tanks for “Titanic,” Arneson is well suited for Korda, which plans to construct a 40,106 sq. ft. water tank in one of its six sound stages. When completed in mid 2008, this 63,033 sq. ft. stage will be the largest in the world. The appointment of a high-level former diplomat as studio chairman underscores Korda’s aim to exhaust every connection in its bid to be competitive internationally. As ambassador between 2002 and mid-2007, Simonyi was a popular member of Washington’s diplomatic community, who also proved to be highly media savvy, appearing on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” (to respond to Stephen Colbert’s campaign to have a Danube bridge named after him), and playing guitar in a diplomatic garage band that raised money for charities. As for the future, with the wrap of “Hellboy 2” after a grueling six-month shoot, Korda is in talks with Hollywood majors to bring four pics to the studios next year, according to investor and Hollywood producer Andrew Vajna. “Hellboy 2” director Guillermo Del Torro has stated that he considers Korda’s facilities to be world class, and that these facilities along with a 2004 law that offers 20% rebates on production costs makes Hungary highly competitive internationally.